Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Evil and the Light of Christ

Logging onto a public computer at work can sometimes be an interesting experience. Today I made sure that some photos of someone's waterbirth were promptly removed (why on earth would anyone leave these on a public computer?) but also came across a little gem I couldn't resist sharing with you. It was a powerpoint file entitled "Does Evil Exist?" consisting of a slideshow of incredible photography (example above) by a "Marcel Cohen." Even more interesting was the narration using a little fictional(?) story that went something like this:

Does evil exist?

The university professor challenged his students with this question: "Did God create everything that exists?"

A student bravely replied, "Yes, he did!"

"God created everything?" The professor asked.

"Yes, sir," the student replied.

The professor answered, "If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God
is evil."

The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, "Can I ask you a question professor?"

"Of course", replied the professor. The student stood up and asked, "Professor, does cold exist?"

"What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?" The students snickered at the young man's question.

The young man replied, "In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Everybody and every object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (- 460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have too little heat."

The student continued. "Professor, does darkness exist?"

The professor responded, "Of course it does".

The student replied, "Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton's prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn't this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present."

Finally the young man asked the professor. "Sir, does evil exist?"

Now uncertain, the professor responded, "Of course, as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man's inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil."

To this the student replied, "Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love, that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God's love present in his heart. It's like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light."

The professor sat down.

Strangely enough, this story has been reproduced with the closing line "The student's name was Albert Einstein" which is one of those internet myths that is, of course, a silly rumour. I like this story particularly because it touches on people's anxiety and fear towards religion. They feel that it is ridiculous to suppose that there can be anything truly good about life from their own bitter experiences. Many eastern philosophies which have become popular in our contemporary culture explain the world away in terms of Ying and Yang - that there are always opposing forces in nature, and many extend this to assume God cannot be an absolute good.

This logic is flawed, and the above analogies help to explain why. I particularly like the use of light to explain how evil is the darkness where God's light does not shine. It resonates in me with allusions to the opening chapter of St. John's Gospel, read at the end of every Traditional Latin Mass:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in his name. Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as it were of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

This Gospel, and particularly these opening words, convicted me so strongly when I first read them, that I came fully into a practising Faith in the Church. St. John's Gospel is not a mere account of the life of Christ, it is the "Beloved Disciple" recalling, at an old age, those events which shaped his youth and changed his life forever.

All the rich symbolism and sacramental character of events has been exposed to St. John upon writing his account. Having led a life of sharing in Christ's sufferings, he reflects with eyes that have been privileged to see the greatest Revelation, recounted in the Book of the Apocalypse. He writes with such love and poetic understanding that it was enough to completely bowl over my cynical agnosticism and force me into a making a decision for or against Christ and His Church.

If you have never read the Gospel of John, then I challenge you to do so; you will not fail to be moved!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Catholic Mom of 10!

Go this way to see to see a new blog up and running by Jackie Parkes, a fellow Birmingham Oratory parishioner, busy managing 10 kids. Today Wendy and I came down off the heavenly realms of the 12.45pm generously granted diocesan indult Tridentine Mass in the cloister chapel, and joined Jackie for the 12pm Family Mass (the rowdy rabble who make it hard for us pious mantilla missal clad people to concentrate on the Latin rambling) so that we could go back to the Parkes' residence for light lunch and blogging tutorials. What fun! I am so proud that Jackie has now managed to navigate Blogger and add links on her sidebar. Congrats! I look forward to reading more, Jackie, and maybe even some updates of the Women's Book Club so I'll know what my wife is up to...

P.S. Hope you note the sense of sarcastic banter!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Salve, Sancta Parens

Part 1 of Madeleine's Baptism Day
Before Madeleine's Baptism we were blessed to have a Low Mass offered in the Traditional Latin Rite, almost as a 'turtle dove' of thanksgiving for the birth of our first child (in a similar vein to Mary's own ritual offering following the birth of our Saviour). Fr. Philip Cleevely, as ever, conducted himself beautifully and reverently before the glorious Lady Altar in the Birmingham Oratory. This was a touching, intimate affair, a 'private Mass' in which we could really prayerfully contemplate the blessings God has bestowed upon us, whilst offering ourselves back to Our Lord in union with His perfect sacrifice. It was one of only a few times when I have not bothered to follow the Mass in my Missal (partly because I left it at home). This reminded me that the Mass is aesthetically a truly beautiful thing; that it is not always necessary for us to understand what is being said. The comfort is knowing the action being performed, and being able to unite ourselves with that in our own intimate way.

Confiteor Deo Omnipoténti, beátæ Maríæ, semper Vírgini, beáto Michaéli Archángelo, beáto Joánni Baptístæ, sanctis Apóstolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater, quia peccávi nimis cogitatióne, verbo, et ópere...

I confess to almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the archangel, to blessed John the Baptist, to the holy apostles Peter and Paul, to all the Saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word and deed...

mea culpa, mea máxima culpa...

through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault...

The public prayer of the Church is undoubtedly the Liturgy. It is therefore often argued that we should all have an 'active' part in it. However, I am content to give the Priest the room to be able to conduct this, whilst I prayerfully meditate upon the mysteries being conferred. I consider this to be actuosa participatio ("actual" or more commonly known as "active participation," as envisaged by II Vatican Council). This is why the opening prayer of the Mass is traditionally referred to as the Collect, because it gathers up the prayers of all the faithful present and offers them in union to God through Jesus Christ. I prefer, therefore, to have a grasp on all the unchanging prayers of the Mass (the Ordinary) and to be able to recognise their intention and timing in the Mass, and to concentrate only on the parts in the Missal that pertain to that individual Mass or Feast day (the Proper). For Madeleine's Baptism the Proper was for the Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary appropriate to the Season.

Admittedly I was sorry to not have produced a Mass sheet with these prayers printed out so that the small gathering of faithful could interpret it. But, alas, for many to know when these prayers are actually being said is very difficult. The traditional Rite of Mass (so-called Tridentine Rite) was the almost universal Rite in the Latin Church pre-1965, and as such the faithful had their whole life to delve deeper into the prayers and mysteries contained within. To expect a small gathering of family and friends to grasp it in one go is, therefore, a little much to ask. I had not expected so many people to turn up to a 'Latin Mass' since it's meant to be off-putting nowadays! Perhaps for some of those present who did not follow in a Missal, the following translations will be helpful. I do hope that the Mass created an impression on everyone, as it did on me. My younger brother of 13 years old stated that "it wasn't too bad, and was quite quick" which, as far as I'm concerned, is a huge personal success! Having shared the most stunning picture of communion from this Mass, I am happy to show you the rest of the photos to give a sense of the wonderful, edifying atmosphere that day.

Introit. SALVE, sancta Parens, eníxa puerpera Regem: qui cælum terrámque regit in sæculórum. Ps. 44, 2. Eructávit cor meum verbum bonum: dico ego opera mea Regi.

HAIL, holy Parent, that didst bring forth the King, Who ruleth heaven and earth for ever and ever. Ps. My heart hath uttered a good word: I speak of my works to the King.

Collect. GRANT us Thy servants, we beseech Thee, O God, to enjoy perpetual health of mind and of body: and by the glorious intercession of blessed Mary ever virgin, to be delivered from present sadness, and to rejoice in everlasting gladness. Through our Lord…

Lesson. Ecclus. 24, 14-16. From the beginning, and before the future age I shall not fail; and in the holy habitation established, and in the holy city likewise I rested, and in Jerusalem is my power. And I took root in an honourable people, and in the portion of my God is the inheritance thereof, and in the fullness of the Saints my abode.

Gradual. BENEDICTA et venerábilis es, Virgo María, quæ sine tactu pudóris invénta es mater Salvatóris. V. Virgo Dei Génitrix, quem totus non capit orbis, in tua se clausit víscera factus homo. Tract. Gaude, María, Virgo, cuncta hæreses sola interemísti. V. Quæ Gabriélis Archángeli dictis credisísti. V. Dum virgo Deum et Hóminem genuísti: et post partum Virgo invioláta permanísti. V. Dei Génitrix, intercéde pro nobis.

BLESSED and honourable art thou, O Virgin Mary, who without spot wert found the Mother of the Saviour. V. Virgin Mother of God, He whom the whole world cannot hold, enclosed Himself in thy womb being made man. Tract. Rejoice, O Virgin Mary, thou alone hast destroyed all heresies. V. Who didst believe the words of the Archangel Gabriel. V. Whilst a virgin thou didst bring forth God and Man: and after childbirth didst remain a Virgin inviolate. V. Mother of God, intercede for us.

Gospel. Luke 11, 27-28. AT THAT TIME, as Jesus was speaking to the multitudes, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore Thee, and the breasts which Thou hast sucked.” But He said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

Offertory. FELIX namque es, sacra Virgo María, et omni laude digníssima, quia ex te ortus est sol justítiæ, Christus Deus noster.

HAPPY indeed art thou, O sacred Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, for out of thee arose the Sun of Justice, Christ our Lord.

Secret. THROUGH thy favour, O Lord, and the intercession of blessed Mary ever virgin, may this oblation conduce to our present and future prosperity and peace. Through our Lord...

Preface. VERE dignum et justum est, æquum et salutáre nos tibi semper, et ubíque grátias ágere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, ætérne Deus: Et te in Veneratione beátæ Maríæ semper Vírginis collaudáre, benedícere et prædicáre. Quæ et Unigénitum tuum Sancti Spíritus obumbratióne concépit: et virginitátis glória permanénte, lumen ætérnum nostrum. Per quem majestátem tuam laudant Angeli, adórant Dominatiónes, tremunt Potestátes, Cæli, cælorúmque Virtútes, ac beáta Sérephim, sócia exsultatíone concélebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admítti júbeas, deprecámur, súpplici confessióne dicéntes: Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus...

IT is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation that we should always and in all places give thanks to Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty, eternal God: and when venerating the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, should praise and bless and glorify Thee. Who by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, conceived Thine only-begotten Son; and the glory of her virginity still remianing, brought forth the eternal light of the world, Jesus Christ our Lord. By whom the Angels praise Thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it, the Heavens, the heavenly Seraphim, with common jubilee glorify it. Together with whom we beseech Thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy...

Communion antiphon. BEATA víscera Maríæ Vírginis, quæ portavérunt Ætérni Patris Fílium.

BLESSED is the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which bore the Eternal Father’s Son.

Post-communion. HAVING partaken, O Lord, of this aid to our salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that always and everywhere we may be protected through the patronage of blessed Mary, she in whose honour we have made these offerings unto Thy Majesty. Through our Lord...

For the above text I used a portable 1956 Sunday Missal (Brepols' Catholic Press, Belgium) which omits the actual Latin text in the Propers except in the parts of the Mass which can be sung (to presumably encourage participation). Its a nice little Missal which has served me excellently, being genuinely small enough to fit in the pocket. I found it as a dusty relic in my Chaplaincy, complete with the prayers at the foot of the altar crossed out in biro (to fit the 1965 changes). Hopefully the Latin Mass Society will soon be producing such Missals for all of their members.

Part 2: The Baptism
Part 3: The Consecration

All the colour photos contained in this post are courtesy of Mr. Peter Gosling and are copyrighted to him.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Prayers Please

My friend and in-law Michael (pictured here at our wedding, back centre, with his mother and step-father/my uncle) has been plagued with heart problems for a while now. Over the past couple of days, he has been admitted to hospital with a further heart attack. As far as I know he has had angioplasty. I think this is a very serious cause for everyone to storm heaven with prayers. Michael is only in his 20s, and to have such concerns is awful for him and his family. Please, please pray for him; that he will be granted respite and comfort by our Lord. Moreover, pray to St. John of God, patron of heart patients, for a miracle.

Two Bits of Good News...

Deo Gratias...
There has been a lot of opposition against the 'Mega-Mosque' proposed for East London in time for the 2012 olympics. This is not mere 'islamophobia' but serious concern over what effect this would have on an already strained community. It looks like these voices are being heard.

(see if you can spot the second bit of good news in the article!)

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Part 3 of Madeleine's Baptism

Continuing on from the Baptism, Madeleine was taken back to the Lady Altar and presented in kneeling before Our Lady of Victories. This part of the Baptism was like a jewel in the crown, and was so moving we could barely hold the tears back. Such an act of dedication is fitting for all Christian children, and I encourage anyone approaching the Baptism of their child to use this same formula.
Now Madeleine is carried to the Lady Altar, where a Mass of Thanksgiving was offered to Our Lady before the Baptism. Madeleine, clothed with Christ, is now dedicated to His mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, who constantly offers her tender motherly care by praying for us before God’s throne in Heaven. We pray that Madeleine may enjoy Mary’s special maternal protection throughout life and at the hour of death.

Madeleine’s parents and godparents, together with the priest, recite the following Act of Consecration:

Blessed Virgin Mary,
Queen of Heaven and Earth,
to your immaculate Heart,
the channel of all graces,
we consecrate Madeleine
whom we have received from God’s goodness.

We offer her to you
that you may present her to your Divine Son,
that you may take her under your loving, maternal protection,
that you may preserve her from all dangers,
that you may keep her from all sin,
that you may make her grow in piety
and in all virtue
so that she may always be worthy
to call herself your child.

May she grow daily in wisdom and in grace,
may she go through life having you always as her refuge and mother.
May all virtues shine in her
and may she never offend your maternal heart.
May the Eternal Father always look upon her with delight
and see in her
a ray and reflection of your Immaculate Beauty.

And as today she gladdens our home,
so may she one day gladden the Eternal Home
which we pray will be hers.

Finally we sing the Salve Regina (“Hail Holy Queen”) to Our Lady

Hail Holy Queen,
Mother of Mercy,
Hail our life, our sweetness and our Hope!
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To Thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious Advocate,
thine eyes of mercy towards us,
and after this, our exile,
show unto us the blessed
fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

PRIEST: Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.

ALL: That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Part 1: The Mass
Part 2: The Baptism

All the colour photos contained in this post are courtesy of Mr. Peter Gosling and are copyrighted to him.


In the traditional calender we have had the three Sundays of Septuagesima to prepare for this season of Lent, with the purple vestments reminding us to focus our hearts and minds on this penitential season. Unfortunately I have found myself swept away with current events, and so here we are about to receive our ashes this afternoon; what have I prepared?

Perhaps just a willingness to be open to God; to allow him to work in my life ever more closely. Lent is a time to resolve our life in Christ, to focus and perfect our Christian life and practice. The threefold Lenten practice of Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer is a sure formula for the whole of our Christian lives. But now is the time to awaken from our slumber and do these things with new vigour and zeal, and for the 40 days to ingrain in us a pattern of charitable living.

How does the Church spur us on to do this? Through the liturgy we are reminded and called to meditate on the great mysteries on the Christian Faith. Particularly the culmination of Lent: The Passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our whole Lenten journey is one of uniting our own sacrifices and efforts to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus himself. Of course, the place where this is called to mind most is in the Mass. So I should start by planning to go to Mass more often, wherever possible.

Also a great way to meditate on Christ's suffering is by praying the Stations of the Cross. All churches should have the Stations, beginning on the left of the high altar. It takes about 30 minutes to meditate on these 14 sufferings of Our Lord and His mother, and it is an excellent way to spend time before or after Mass. This practice is best extended to every Friday of our life, when we are always called to make some act of Penance (traditionally abstaining from meat). Last year during Holy Week I used Microsoft Powerpoint to create a presentation which set the music of Franz Liszt's Via Crucis to images from Mel Gibson's film The Passion, with images from the Stations of the Cross (right), and the sung text and translations as well. So really I have no excuse not to perform this devotion regularly, even if I can't make it to church.

The other important aspect of my spiritual life I wish to improve upon is my prayer life. Perhaps I will endeavour to say the Office morning and evening without fail, or at least come some way to say my prayers more regularly. I remember for my private prayers the acrostic A-C-T-S which reminds us to structure our prayer around Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. It is all too easy to jump to the last step and forget all the other things we should bring to our Lord in prayer.

Today, Ash Wednesday, we have the imposition of blessed Ashes upon our forehead, to consecrate all our efforts this Lent to God. It is an act which recalls the early Church practice of public penitents undertaking 40 days of suffering and good works in order to be reconciled to God and the Church. Their sackcloth and ashes would be blessed at the beginning of Lent, and they would be received back into the Church at the Holy Saturday Easter vigil (Left, a practice which still remains for converts today, albeit not quite as harsh!) Around the 11th Century it was recognised that every Christian needed penitence and revival in their faith, so it is now a universal practice for us all, nobis quoque peccatoribus.

Monday, February 19, 2007

To Receive Communion

The following has to be the best photograph I've ever seen. It almost had me in tears to see the moment at which my beautiful wife, cradling my precious daughter, receives the Blessed Sacrament: the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Such a moment is indescribable. Indeed, it is the culmination of what it means to be Christian; the source and summit of our life in Christ. A taste of that Heavenly banquet. A glimpse through time to be present at Calvary at the moment of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross, and furthermore to taste the glory of His resurrection. How can all this be happening on the face of such a simple species; mere bread and wine? That is the mystery which we enter into every Mass, and what we strive to feel and understand deeper as the Sacrament confers Grace upon our hearts.

I give myself to God. Here is my body. Take it. Here is my blood. Take it. Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my property, my wealth – all that I have. It is Yours. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it! Offer it with Thyself to the heavenly Father in order that He, looking down on this great Sacrifice [of the Mass], may see only Thee, His beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased. Transmute the poor bread of my life into Thy Divine Life; thrill the wine of my wasted life into Thy Divine Spirit; unite my broken heart with Thy Heart; change my cross into a crucifix.

Let not my abandonment and my sorrow and my bereavement go to waste. Gather up the fragments, and as the drop of water is absorbed by the wine at the Offertory of the Mass, let my life be absorbed in Thine; let my little cross be entwined with Thy great Cross so that I may purchase the joys of everlasting happiness in union with Thee.

Consecrate these trials of my life which would go unrewarded unless united with Thee; transubstantiate me so that like bread which is now Thy Body, and wine which is now Thy Blood, I too may be wholly Thine. I care not if the species remain, or that, like the bread and the wine I seem to all earthly eyes the same as before. My station in life, my routine duties, my work, my family- all these are but the species of my life which may remain unchanged; but the substance of my life, my soul, my mind, my will, my heart- transubstantiate them, transform them wholly into Thy service, so that through me all may know how sweet is the love of Christ. Amen.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
Calvary and the Mass
P. J. Kenedy & Sons: New York, 1936

Photo courtesy of Mr. Peter Gosling, taken on the occasion of Madeleine's Baptism, and copyright to him.

Apologies, Pipelines, and Delirium

On older computers, the screen resolution may not be high enough for some of my posts with columns to work. I apologise for this, but haven't got the time to check compatibility and adjust accordingly. I hope the majority of my readers will be able to enjoy the posts on baptism and the text contained therein.

Coming up over the next few days are reflections on the Votive Mass to Our Lady (salve sancta parens from the first words of the Introit) which preceded Madeleine's Baptism, with some of the most amazing photos I could imagine of the beautiful Lady Altar at the Birmingham Oratory. To have a Tridentine Mass offered in the main church was such an honour, and one I will not easily forget. I look forward to sharing the photos with some LMS reps whose family actually paid for this altar to be built.

Continuing Madeleine's Baptism post, I have pictures and text of her consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which I will also put up this week. I am a devotee of Our Lady's apparitions at Fatima, despite having never visited the shrine itself. Therefore I believe that consecrating oneself to Mary's Immaculate heart is an honour and duty which will yield much fruit in the spiritual battle that constantly rages, here in this 'Lacrimarum Valle' (Vale of Tears).

And there is always more baby photos for those who are that way inclined! Last night Madeleine was dressed in the most peculiar way, with an oversized bib, mittens, and an odd arrangement of pyjamas, making her look like some sort of low-budget superhero from the Incredibles! I will have to share a photo of this with you soon. It probably won't make anyone else laugh, but understand that we are delirious through lack of sleep at the moment!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Catholic Blog Awards Results

Thanks to all my readers for allowing me to be a part of the 2007 Catholic Blog Awards; an honour I was not expecting! I received 10 votes in total, and I now have the prestigious result of:

29th Place - Best New Catholic Blog

56th Place - Best Overall Catholic Blog

Part of my victory speech would be to say "Thank God for all the Blogs which are better than mine, so that I have something decent to read in my spare time". After all, if mine were the best I would get bored reading about myself all day.

Indeed, there are so many top quality Catholic Blogs out there; the results page makes some interesting reading if only to discover them all! My browser highlights all the ones I've already visited; it is very few, that's for sure!

Maybe next year they will include the category "Best Catholic Blog by Married Medical Student" which would perhaps guarantee me an acolyte!

Madeleine's Baptism

Part 2 of Madeleine's Baptism Day

Here follows a commentary of Madeleine's Baptism using the text I produced in the booklets (which you can clearly see being used in the pictures!)

I will also put posts up on the Votive Mass to Our Lady which preceded the Baptism, and Madeleine's consecration to Our Lady which followed the Baptism, both at the Oratory's magnificent Lady Altar (complete with the most wonderful photos of course!)




The Priest addresses Madeleine directly and asks:

PRIEST: What do you ask of the Church of God?


PRIEST: What does Faith offer you?

GODPARENTS: Life everlasting.
PRIEST: If then you desire to enter into life, keep the commandments. ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’


The priest blows gently with his breath onto the face of Madeleine three times in the form of a cross, saying:

Exi ab ea, immúnde spíritus, et da locum Spirítui Sancto Paráclito.
Go forth from her, unclean spirit, and give place to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.


Then he traces the sign of the cross with his thumb upon Madeleine’s forehead and upon her chest, saying:

Receive the sign of the cross upon your fore + head and upon your + heart. Know that you are bound now by a heavenly rule of life, and let your conduct henceforth prove you fit to be a living temple of God.

Let us pray.

Hear our prayer, Lord God, and guard this chosen servant Madeleine. May thy strength never fail her now, for we have traced upon her the sign of Christ’s cross. May she always remember what she learns of thy greatness and thy glory. May she keep thy commandments and be worthy, she too, to have glory, the glory of new life in thee.

Through Christ our Lord.



Then he places his hand on the child’s head saying:

Let us pray.

Almighty and everlasting God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, look upon this thy servant Madeleine, whom thou hast called to the first lessons of the Faith. Drive out of her all blindness of heart; break the bonds of Satan which have bound her. Open to her, O Lord, the door of thy mercy. Steeped in this symbol of thy wisdom may she no longer be tainted with evil desires, but rather spread about her the fragrance of thy commandments, as she serves thee happily in thy Church and grows holier with each passing day.

Through Christ our Lord.



Then he blesses some salt, which may be kept for use on future occasions. Salt is the symbol of that wisdom which gives a relish for the sweetness of divine nourishment; preserves, by the teaching of the Gospel, from the corruption of sin, and prevents evil passions from growing in men's souls.

Exorcízo te, creatúra salis, in nomine Dei + Patris omnipoténtis, et in caritáte Dómini nostri Iesu + Christi, et in virtúte Spíritus + Sancti. Exorcízo te per Deum + vivum, per Deum + verum, per Deum + sanctum, per Deum +, qui te ad tutélam humáni generis procreávit, et pópulo veniénti ad credulitátem per servos suos consecrári præcépit, ut in nomine sanctæ Trinitátis efficiáris salutáre sacraméntum ad effugándum inimícum. Proínde rogámus te, Dómine Deus noster, ut hanc creatúram salis sanctificándo sanctí+fices, et benedicéndo bene+dícas, ut fiat omnibus accipiéntibus perfécta medicína, pérmanens in viscéribus eórum, in nomine eiúsdem Dómini nostri Iesu Christi, qui ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos, et sǽculum per ignem.


I adjure thee in the name of God the Father + almighty, in the love of Jesus Christ + our Lord, in the power of the Holy + Spirit. I adjure thee through the living, + true + and holy + God, the God + who made thee for the well-being of the human race, and commanded thee to be hallowed by his servants for the use of those who come to the knowledge of him by faith. In the name of the Holy Trinity, through thee may Satan be put to flight. Wherefore, O Lord our God, we beseech thee, sanctify + this salt and bless + it; and make of it a sovereign remedy to linger within the inmost being of all who partake of it. In the name of that same Lord Jesus Christ, who is to come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.


He then puts a little of the blessed salt in Madeleine’s mouth, and says:

Receive this salt, learning from it how to relish what is right and good. May it make your way easy to eternal life.


PRIEST: Peace be with you.

ALL REPLY: And also with you.

PRIEST: Let us pray.

God of our fathers, O God with whom all truth begins, look upon thy servant Madeleine who now has tasted salt as the first nourishment at thy table. Do not leave her hungry. Give to her soul food in abundance, that she may be eager, hopeful and lighthearted in the service of thy Name. Lead her we pray thee, to the waters of new Life, that, with all who are faithful to thee, she may merit the eternal rewards thou hast promised.

Through Christ our Lord.




The priest makes the sign of the cross three times over Madeleine and says

Exorcízo te, immúnde spíritus, in nomine Pa+tris, et Fí+lii, et Spíritus + Sancti, ut éxeas, et recédas ab hac fámula Dei Madeleine. Ipse enim tibi ímperat, maledícte damnáte qui pédibus super mare ambulávit, et Petro mergénti déxteram porréxit. Ergo, maledícte diábole, recognósce senténtiam tuam, et da honórem Deo vivo et vero, da honórem Iesu Christo Fílio eius, et Spirítui Sancto, et recéde ab hac fámula Dei Madeleine, quia istam sibi Deus et Dóminus noster Iesus Christus ad suam sanctam grátiam, et benedictiónem, fontémque Baptísmatis vocáre dignátus est.

I adjure thee, unclean spirit, in the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Ghost to depart and remain far away from this servant of God Madeleine. He commands thee now who walked dry-shod upon the waters, and when Peter would have perished in the sea stretched out to him his saving hand. And do, accursed spirit, give heed to the sentence passed upon thee. Give honour to the living and true God, give honour to Jesus Christ his son, and to the Holy Ghost, and begone from this servant of God Madeleine; for God and our Lord Jesus Christ in his goodness has called her to his holy grace and blessing and to the waters of baptism.


The priest again traces the sign of the cross upon Madeleine’s forehead saying:

Et hoc signum santæ Cru+cis, quod nos fronti eius damus, tu, maledícte diábole, numquam áudeas violáre. Per eúmdem Christum Dóminum nostrum.

And this sign of the holy Cross +, which we put upon her forehead, do thou, foul spirit, never dare to violate.

Through Christ our Lord.



For the last time he puts his hand upon Madeleine’s forehead and says:

Let us pray.

Holy Lord and Father, almighty and eternal God, author of light and of truth, we ask thy never-failing and kind fatherly love for this thy servant Madeleine. Enlighten her in thy goodness with the light of thy own understanding. Cleanse her and sanctify her; give her true knowledge; that made worthy by the grace of thy Baptism she may be endowed with unwavering hope, sound judgement and a firm grasp of holy doctrine.

Through Christ our Lord.



The priest lays the left-side end of his stole upon Madeleine as a symbol of his priestly authority, and leads her into the church (which is the symbol of the Church of Christ) saying as he does so:

Come into the temple of God, that your lot may be with Christ in life eternal.



When they have entered the church, the priest leads the way to the font, saying aloud with the godparents in the name of the child, the Credo and Pater:

PRIEST & GODPARENTS: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy Catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

PRIEST & GODPARENTS: Pater noster, qui es in cælis, sanctificétur nomen tuum. Advéniat regnum tuum. Fiat volúntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum cotidiánum da nobis hódie. Et dimítte nobis débita nostra, sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem: sed líbera nos a malo. Amen.



The priest, making the sign of the cross over Madeleine three times, says

Exorcízo te, omnis spíritus immúnde, in nómine Dei + Patris omnipoténtis, et in nómine Iesu + Christi Fílii eius, Dómine et Iúdicis nostri, et in virtúte Spíritus + Sancti, ut discédas ab hoc plásmate Dei Madeleine, quod Dóminus noster ad templum sanctum suum vocáre dignátus est, ut fiat templum Dei vivi, et Spíritus Sanctus hábitet in eo. Per eúmdem Christum Dóminum nostrum, qui ventúrus est iudicáre vivos et mórtuos, et sǽculum per ignem.


I adjure you, each and every unclean spirit, in the name of God the Father + almighty, in the name of Jesus Christ + his Son, our Lord and our judge, and by the power of the Holy + Spirit, to be gone from this image of God Madeleine, whom our Lord in his goodness has called to his holy temple that she herself may become a temple of God, and the Holy Ghost may dwell in her. Through the same Christ our Lord, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.



The priest touches first the ears and then the nostrils of Madeleine. Traditionally this was performed with a little spittle, which reflects our Lord’s actions from Mark 7:33-35, when He healed the deaf-mute: "And taking him from the multitude apart, he put his fingers into his ears: and spitting, he touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he groaned and said to him: “Ephpheta”, which is, “Be thou opened.” And immediately his ears were opened and the string of his tongue was loosed and he spoke right."

PRIEST: Ephpheta, quod est, Adaperíre.

Ephpheta, which is: Be thou open.

(then he touches the nostrils and says:)

In odórem suavitátis. Tu autem effugáre, diábole; appropinquábit enim iudícium Dei.

To the sweet fragrance about you. As for thee, evil spirit, get thee gone; for God’s judgement is upon thee.


The godparents answer in the name of the child.

PRIEST: Do you renounce Satan?

GODPARENTS: I do renounce him.

PRIEST: And all his works?

GODPARENTS: I do renounce them.

PRIEST: And all his pomps?

GODPARENTS: I do renounce them.


The priest anoints Madeleine with the oil of catechumens on the chest and between the shoulders in the form of a cross, saying:

I anoint you with this + saving oil in Christ Jesus our Lord, that you may have eternal life.

The priest takes his violet stole off and puts on a white one. Then he enters the baptistery, followed by the godparents with Madeleine.



The priest addresses Madeleine, and the godparents answer on her behalf:

PRIEST: Madeleine, do you believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

GODPARENTS: I do believe.

PRIEST: Do you believe in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and who suffered for us?

GODPARENTS: I do believe.

PRIEST: Do you believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting?

GODPARENTS: I do believe.

PRIEST: Madeleine, are you willing to be baptised?



While the godparents hold Madeleine (the godmother holds her in her arms, the godfather touches her shoulder with his right hand), the priest pours baptismal water on her head three times in the form of a cross, distinctly saying:

Ego te baptízo in nominee Pa+tris,

et Fí+lii,

et Spíritus + Sancti


Then the priest anoints Madeleine’s head with the oil of sacred chrism in the form of a cross saying:

May almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given you new life through water and the Holy Ghost, and forgiven you all your sins, (Here he anoints Madeleine) himself anoint you with saving + Chrism in the same Christ Jesus our Lord, that you may have eternal life.


PRIEST: Peace be with you.

ALL REPLY: And also with you.


Then the priest puts a white knitted shawl (symbolizing the purity of a soul cleansed from all sin, and a relic of the days when the newly baptized wore white albs for 8 days) on the head of the child saying:

Take this white garment, and see that you carry it without stain before the judgement seat of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you may have eternal life.



The priest gives the godparents, on behalf of Madeleine, a lighted candle saying:

Receive this burning light and see thou guard the grace of thy baptism without blame; keep the commandments of God, so that when the Lord shall come to call thee to the nuptials, thou mayest meet Him with all the saints in the heavenly courts, there to live for ever and ever.



PRIEST: Go in peace Madeleine, and the Lord be with you.


To read more of my reflections from the Baptism, see my earlier post.

Part 1: The Mass
Part 3: The Consecration

All the colour photos contained in this post are courtesy of Mr. Peter Gosling and are copyrighted to him.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Our Eastertide Retreat

Where we'll be the weekend after Easter (and for Wendy's Birthday):

St. Catherine's Trust Family Retreat
Friday 13th - Sunday 15th April 2007
Ardingly College, West Sussex

Thursday, February 15, 2007


Things have certainly felt great following the Baptism. We had so many supportive people come to stay, and so many people eager to meet Maddy. We were also overjoyed to find so many presents for her! I am afraid that we haven't kept up very well with who got us what, which makes it a little difficult to send out thank you letters. But I'm sure everyone will understand the pressures of new parenthood. Besides, it is Maddy's job to thank everyone, and at the moment she cannot communicate very well.

But by far the most perplexing and unsettling thing is the new 'presence' in our house since the weekend. We started getting suspicious when our cat got very up tight and panicky. Then came the strange growling sound. Then, looking among Maddy's presents, we find a very strange thing staring back at us:

Who is it? What is it? Where did it come from? More importantly, why would anyone give, to a vulnerable and impressionable child, such a wild and vicious thing of nature? With our lack of sleep and high levels of cortisol, we are finding it difficult to answer such questions. The only thing I recall (before the psychogenic fugue of post-Baptismal chaos hit me) is a name:

Colemanus Maximus

Luckily we are beginning to tame this foul beast (perhaps a Transformer?), and just about managing to keep it at arm's length from little Madeleine. Can my readers please shed some light on this mystery?
(Joanna Bogle would be ashamed of all these Blogger in-jokes)